Madagascar: Cardinal Razafindratandra has died

Cardinal Razafindratandra

Cardinal Razafindratandra

Pope Benedict XVI has expressed his condolences for the death of Cardinal Armand Gaetan Razafindratandra, archbishop emeritus of Antananarivo, Madagascar, who died on Saturday,  January 9, at the age of 84.

In a telegram made public yesterday afternoon, addressed to Archbishop Odon Marie Arsene Razanakolona of Antananarivo, the Holy Father noted how the late cardinal "dedicated his entire life to helping Madagascans, as a diocesan priest and later as archbishop of Antananarivo, giving the best of himself that Christ might be announced".

The Pope prays that: "by the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa, the Lord may welcome His faithful servant into His Kingdom of peace and light".

With the death of Cardinal Razafindratandra, the College of Cardinals now has 182 members, of whom 112 are electors.

Paying tribute to the Cardinal,  Salesian Fr Cosimo Alvati, who has worked for many years  in Madagascar (where he founded Radio Don Bosco), said: "Cardinal Razafindratandra always had a special care and sensitivity for the poor. His moral authority also stemmed from his lifestyle and the example it offered. On several occasions I got to meet him when he was Archbishop of the capital, Antananarivo, and have always been impressed by his simple and sober lifestyle: a study with adjoining bedroom, a simple cassock, frugal meals. The Cardinal was a prince who lived like most of his compatriots, in simplicity and frugality."
"The moral authority of the Cardinal that stemmed from his lifestyle, rather than by its noble origin, was recognized by everyone, including the Heads of State who ruled the island, which is why for years he was Chairman of the Board of Christian Churches, a body comprising all the main Christian denominations of Madagascar," recalled Fr Cosimo.

"The Cardinal's great charity and pastoral sensitivity was already famous when he was Bishop of Mahajanga. He was famous for exploring the farthest and forgotten points of his diocese, often in long wanderings on foot and by canoe, a journey which lasted for days, because of the lack of roads. Even in the last years of life, after having left the leadership of the Archdiocese of Antananarivo, he showed his particular sensitivity to the most humble. The Cardinal decided to live in Besalampy, one of the poorest areas of Madagascar, where he continued his pastoral and human development until the end."

At Besalampy, the Cardinal set up a holiday camp for poor children, Fr Cosimo said. He also established a network of  Catholic radio stations throughout Madagascar.

The funeral of Cardinal Razafindratandra will be held on  15 January.

Source: Fides

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